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Hitting the Jackpot: Idiom in Poetry


Ready to have a cow?

Seeing eye-to-eye, poets, some of them over the hill, often play cat-and-mouse with language, and sometimes we end up eating our words.

Not exactly clichés, idioms allow us to communicate using familiar phrases that signify some common understanding; often times, but not always, idioms are rooted in vegetative, animal, and nature metaphor.

In this exercise, you will have the opportunity to select a familiar idiom and use it literally in your poem.

An idiom is an indiviual pecularity of language, peculiar to a people or district, community or class. The meaning of the entire idiomatic phrase, when taken together, has little to do with the meaning of the words taken one-by-one.

As poets, we often take words one-by-one, slow things down a bit, and cultivate meaning.

kitty bag

To "let the cat out of the bag," means to reveal a secret. The phrase has little to do with cats and bags, but years ago, it actually did.

Here is a list of frequently-used American idiomatic expressions:

Pick one of these idioms that floats your boat and use it in a poem.

Writing exercise: pick ONE idiom from the list above, or select your own, and use it literally in your poem. (Write a poem about a cat in a bag). Extra credit for using simile, alliteration, personification, and metaphor.

Please use an idiomatic expression in a poem of 30 lines or fewer, and submit it for consideration on the APW Forum/Guests' Pages. Email subject line: Idiom Poem.


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